The Five Books of Youth by Robert Hillyer


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Page 2



The leaves rain down upon the forest pond,
An elfin tarn green-shadowed in the fern;
Nine yews ensomber the wet bank, beyond
The autumn branches of the beeches burn
With yellow flame and red amid the green,
And patches of the darkening sky between.

This is an ancient country; in this wood
The Druids raised their sacrificial stones;
Here the vast timeless silences still brood
Though the cold wind's October monotones
Fan the enchanted senses with the dread
Of holiness long-past and beauty dead.

How far beyond this glade the day-world turns
Upon its pivot of reward and chance;
Farther than the first star that palely burns
Over the forest's meditative trance.
First star of evening, last star of day,
The one grows clear, the other dies away.

Will they come back who once beneath these trees
Invoked their long-forgotten gods with tears,
Who heard the sob of the same twilight breeze
Blow down the vistas of remembered years,
Beside the tarn's black waters where they stood
Close to their god, far from the multitude?

I watch, but they are long ago departed,
Far as the world of day, or as the star;
The forest loved her priests, and tranquil-hearted
They stole away in dim procession, far
Down the unechoing aisles, beyond recalling;
The moss grows on the stones, the leaves are falling.

In vain I listen for their hissing speech,
And seek white holy hands upon the air,
They told their worship to the yew and beech,
And left them with the secret, trembling there,
Nor shall they come at midnight nor at dawn;
The gods are dead; the votaries are gone.

A form floats toward me down the corridor
Of mighty trees, half-visioned through the haze,
And stands beside me on that empty shore;
So rest we there, and wonderingly gaze.
By the dead water, under the deep boughs,
My Love and I renew our ancient vows.



The faded turquoise of the sky
Darkens into ocean green
Flecked palely where the stars will rise.
A single bough between
The spacious colour and your half-closed eyes
Hangs out its hazy traceries.
Still, like a drowsy god you lie,
My fair unbidden guest,
Your white hands crossed beneath your head,
Your lips curved strangely mute with peace,
Your hair moved lightly by the breeze.
A glow is shed
Warm on your face from the last rays that push
From the dying sun into the green vault of the west.

This is your bridal night; the golden bush
Is heavy with the fruits that you will taste,
Full ripened in desire.
You who have hoarded youth, this is your hour of waste,
Your hour of squandering and drunkenness,
Of wine-dashed lips and generous caress,
Of brows thorn-crowned and bodies crucified,--
O bid me to the feast.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 13:20